Durban ICC supports youth development projects


The Durban International Convention Centre has always played an active role in supporting community projects and especially those which invest in the lives of young people. Recently, the Durban ICC has increased its support by hosting and sponsoring two key events aimed at empowering young people in the hospitality industry.

In December, the Durban ICC hosted a glittering fundraising dinner which helped raise over R200,000 for the Ikusasa School of Cooking. This chef school provides the opportunity for underprivileged youth, who are either living in children’s homes or who come from disadvantaged families, to earn a culinary qualification and secure full-time employment upon graduating. The cooking school was established four years ago as a project of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Foundation Trust, and is based at St Martin’s Children’s Home in Glenwood. On the evening, significant charitable donations were made to towards the tuition of future students of the cooking school. Notable donations were received from the Durban ICC, International Bank Vaults and Tsogo Sun, amongst others.

“The Durban ICC is thrilled to support this initiative and contribute to a brighter future for these young, aspiring chefs from disadvantaged backgrounds” commented Julie-May Ellingson, the Durban ICC’s Chief Executive Officer. Founder of the school and outgoing chairman of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Foundation Trust, Sundru Pillay, noted “The support we have received from the ICC has been outstanding; not only have they sponsored this event helping raise a remarkable amount money for the school, but have also provided employment for three of our graduating students in 2014.”

Sandile Ngwane, Sindiswe Ngiba and Diandra Reuben, the three Ikusasa students from the graduating class, have joined the ranks of the Durban ICC as part of the Centre’s Graduate Programme. Over the next year they will gain valuable experience and develop their skills under the guidance of the Centre’s experienced chefs. “We can all do our part in making a positive difference in the lives of young people and especially in ways that impart real skills and equip them for their careers”, added Ellingson. One graduate, Sandile Ngwane noted, “Working at the Durban ICC has been a wonderful experience and I have already learnt so much. This is the first time I have seen catering operations for over a thousand people at a time.”

In addition to this initiative, the Durban ICC was also the key sponsor of the KZN Info Chef Conference, organized by the South African Chefs Association (SACA). This year’s conference was aimed specifically at youth development, under the theme “The Young Chef”, and addressed challenges facing young culinary professionals today. “Conferences of this nature play an important role in raising the skill levels and broadening the horizons of our young, local chefs. We were excited to support such a worthy cause and continue our contribution to the youth development efforts in our province”, added Ellingson.

KwaZulu-Natal Regional Chairman of SACA, Günther Beissel commented, “The Durban ICC is to be commended for its continued contribution towards skills development in the hospitality industry. By sponsoring this event, they have made it possible for young chefs to learn from industry leaders, gain valuable career guidance and participate in discussion forums around the latest trends emerging in the culinary world.”